The NRL have moved to improve the standard of video refereeing with the introduction of an NFL-style “bunker” referral system for 2016.
The league’s head of football Todd Greenberg revealed the full details of the ground-breaking Central Command Centre – to be located at Redfern in Sydney – at Rugby League Central on Friday.
The Australian Rugby League Commission-approved implementation will be a first for Australian sport, utilising Hawk-Eye Innovations video review technology and supported by Telstra’s Digital Video Network platform.
“This will be a game changer for rugby league,” Greenberg said.
“It has the potential to halve the time taken to review a decision and deliver more accurate results.
“We have been through an exhaustive trial process because this is so important for our fans.
“Now that it has been approved by the commission, we will begin work on the facility so it is up and running in time for the start of the 2016 season.”
The NRL has been under pressure to make changes to their current video refereeing system following a series of controversial decisions over the past few seasons.
Greenberg said the centre was designed to improve accuracy, efficiency, consistency as well as transparency of the decision-making process.
“Our video referees will be using state-of-the-art technology,” he said.
“We will control the vision, and the improved technology means we will be able to make informed decisions much quicker.
Rather than rely on the broadcasters’ limited footage, Greenberg said the league’s video referees will have access to multiple camera angles and playback control for all reviewable decisions.
“Touch screen interfaces, zoom functions and split screens will further enhance the decision-making process,” he said.
“Recent trials have shown that video referees can review decisions in an average of about 40 seconds when they have relevant angles and enhanced video review technology available at their fingertips.
“That’s half the current average time our video referees take to make a decision and that will be our target next season.”
Greenberg said the Central Command Centre would be introduced in conjunction with a reduction in interchanges and the introduction of a shot clock to achieve the NRL’s objective of more game continuity.
“But more than that, this system will allow us to be more transparent and transform the fan experience in partnership with NRL broadcasters through the live explanation of decisions to fans,” he said.
“I cannot overstate this: we will get more decisions right. And we will take significantly less time to reach those decisions.”
Bunker systems are already used in the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB in the United States with great success.